What The Honda/Waymo Partnership Really Means

22 Dec

Waymo

Honda and Waymo, the self-driving car company from Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google), have announced a partnership—specifically, according to the press release, a “technical collaboration of fully self-driving automobile technology”. But what does that mean, exactly?

This: The self-driving car dam is breaking, if it hasn’t broken already. If you’re a car company without a self-driving car program, or if after billions of dollars of R&D yours doesn’t do what Google’s does … Waymo is the answer.

You don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that while Tesla and Uber have been grabbing all the headlines, Google/Alphabet has long had the world’s most advanced self-driving car program. Since its 2009 inception, speculation about their intentions has been rampant.

Now, we can get a sense of what they’re up to.

We know that Waymo, Alphabet’s recently announced self-driving spinoff, has gathered 2M+ miles of high-resolution driving data, the majority of it in Northern California. Tesla has orders of magnitude more, but they don’t use LIDAR, which skeptics believe is essential for full self-driving capabilities. We know Waymo’s parent possesses virtually unlimited resources and data on individual search, shopping habits, and location. We know that Wayno is hiring experts in licensing. We know that, prior to its spinoff, Waymo had approached multiple manufacturers about partnerships, presumably to license their software platform in return for user data, perhaps even to control the in-car content ecosystem (think: self-driving car “drivers” watching the newest Hollywood blockbuster via Google Play).

There’s incredible value on both ends of that continuum. Every Honda mile driven with Waymo’s platform gathers priceless data, improving the platform. On the other end, control the content ecosystem, control the data, own the user, print money.

There’s a reason your phone almost certainly runs Android or iOS. Remember Nokia? Blackberry?

Read the rest over at The Drive

What if the Autonomous Car Industry Is Wrong?

7 Dec

Autonomous

Do you spend time in Silicon Valley or Detroit? If you don’t, know that most conversations involve these talking points: Autonomous cars are inevitable. Almost here. Will be ubiquitous. Save lives. Reduce traffic. Cut pollution. Also, mobility. And sharing. And no one will own cars. FYI, Don’t buy Tesla. Tesla sucks. Wait for our stuff.

“Never assume,” my father always said, so let’s follow his advice, deconstruct the clickbait underlying much of the autonomous driving narrative, and ask the question:

What if the autonomous car industry is wrong?

First we have to answer this: What is the autonomous car industry? On one side, we have the universe of Silicon Valley companies trying to figure out how to monetize an immature technology. On the other, we have the universe of legacy car companies terrified the upstarts are going to leave them behind. Since no one knows when or how it will be possible to monetize autonomous cars, they’re investing billions in anything with the words Autonomy or Mobility, catchphrases of a seemingly inevitable future they don’t understand.

Are autonomous cars inevitable? Of course. A self-driving car that works on the streets of Mountain View in decent weather? Google has them now. A self-driving car that is 100% guaranteed never to make a mistake, anywhere, in any condition? Not in my lifetime, and I’m not that old.

The billion-dollar question is—

Read the rest over at The Drive

Alex Roy Digest 5.11.16: No Steering Wheels, Uber For Gas, People Are Dangerous

11 May

Filld

Transportation Communist/Gizmodo contributor Alissa Walker is back with another pro-Autonomous Driving article, Why Self-Driving Cars Should Never Have Steering Wheels. Citing Google’s Chris Urmson, she adds some predictable commentary to his argument that Self-Driving Cars basically should launch at Level 5. Don’t know your Autonomous Driving (AD) Levels? Here’s a nice chart from SAE. I’ll say this one more time…technology can solve a lot of problems, but it can’t solve for human nature. I don’t think it matters whether AD is Level 5 capable. People want to feel agency, however untrained they are in the art of driving. Article coming… Continue reading

Alex Roy Digest 5.4.16.2: Google is Colossus, China AD, Tesla

4 May

Colossus

GM ditched Google over data control? Add their coming big AI, and Google is Colossus. Or will be. Does that mean Ford is OK with Google’s data control? What does this say about BMW and Daimler’s rejection of Apple’s terms? Did Apple want what Google wants? Is Google already an adolescent Colossus?

Continue reading

Alex Roy’s Digest 5.3.16: Chris Harris vs. Gumball 3000, ISIS, Gumpert, Textalyzer & More

3 May

Gumball 3000 Gumpert Apollo Crash

The Gumpert Apollo may disappoint, but the Gumball 3000 never does.

Speaking of the Gumball 3000, Chris Harris really stepped into the line of fire with his anti-Gumball 3000 tweet, and boy did things get nasty when rapper Bun B shot back. Harris’ Instagram is now filled with foul language…or worse.

Continue reading

Air Disasters, Indiana Jones and the Future of Car Accidents

21 Jan

Indiana Jones & The Swordfighter

The Age of the Autonomous Car is coming, and if you want to survive it, you need to re-watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and learn the Lesson of the Swordsman. Once you do that, you’re halfway to understanding the problem with autonomous cars. For every problem technology solves, a new one is created. We solved the problem of the sword with the gun. We are now poised to solve the “problem” of human drivers with Autonomous Cars. And that’s a problem.

If Indy’s gun had misfired, he’d have been toast.

What will happen when Autonomous Cars fail?

Read my latest article at The Drive…

Alex Roy On What The Ford/Google Driverless Partnership REALLY Means

22 Dec

Alex Roy On What The Ford/Google Driverless Partnership Really Means

It has begun. Ford and Google will partner to build Driverless Cars, according to sources. I must be Nostradamus. Just last week I explained “How Car Companies Can Survive The Self-Driving Car Apocalypse,” and now Ford has allegedly done precisely what I suggested OEM’s need to do to ensure their survival. Ford, as the first American OEM to partner with Google, has now gained a temporary but Brobdingnagian advantage over every other legacy OEM on the planet.

Yes, Brobdingnagian. On the scale of size, that’s bigger than big, massive or colossal.

Read the rest over at The Drive

Alex Roy is the author of the LiveDriveRepeat blog and Editor-at-Large for The Drive.
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California’s Rules on Self-Driving Cars Don’t Really Matter

17 Dec

Alex Roy's LiveDriveRepeat

Don’t believe yesterday’s clickbait nonsense about the California DMV’s draft rules for Self-Driving Cars. There’s much more (and less) than meets the eye here, and it affects new and legacy car manufacturers VERY differently.

Read my new story over at The Drive.

Enjoy.

How Car Companies Can Survive the Self-Driving Apocalypse

11 Dec

Alex Roy's LiveDriveRepeat - How Car Companies Can Survive the Self-Driving Apocalypse

I know which carmakers will survive in a world of self-driving cars.

How do I know?

About fifteen years ago, I was a screenwriter. The gig lasted seven days, during which I was put up at the Chateau Marmont in the same bungalow in which John Belushi died. Horscht, the wild-eyed, fast-talking, curly-mulleted producer paying for it, had a vision he delivered to me as he stood in the doorway, silhouetted before the last sunlight I would see for a week:

Read the full story over at The Drive…

An Autonomous Winter Is Coming For Car Manufacturers

15 Oct

Alex Roy's LiveDriveRepeat

Winter is coming for car manufacturers. An Autonomous Winter, without end. If you’ve seen what Tesla is doing with Autopilot, and all they plan to do with it, you’ve already seen the future. Now it’s up to automakers to figure out what they want to be in this new world as quickly as possible.

Check out my new piece on the future of Autonomous Cars over at Jalopnik